Mile High Swinging Bridge - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Mile High Swinging Bridge

Linville, North Carolina

You can find America's highest suspension footbridge at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. 


The site attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, and it provides adventurers with an unprecedented vista of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1952, a conservationist and photographer named Hugh Morton inherited a mountain from his grandfather. The land was aptly named Grandfather Mountain. At this time, Morton recognized how his grandmother struggled with limited mobility. In her older age, she missed being able to hike. Morton wanted to build a solution on Grandfather Mountain to accommodate his grandmother so she could still relish in the stunning views from the summit. 

That same year, Morton began constructing the Mile High Swinging Bridge. The bridge spanned across Grandfather’s Convention Table Rock to the nearby Linville Peak. On the bridge, Morton’s grandmother could safely soak in the crisp mountain air and the Blue Ridge landscape. In the decades since Morton’s grandmother first visited the bridge in 1952, millions of locals and tourists alike have shared that same view from the Mile High Swinging Bridge.

The history behind Hugh Morton’s family makes The Mile High Swinging Bridge a regional mainstay. But the bridge’s unique architecture is a major draw for tourists across the globe. The bridge stretches across an 80-foot gap, and it’s built at an elevation of almost 5,300 feet. 

If you’re scared of heights, you can take comfort that the swinging bridge doesn’t actually, well, swing all that much. The title of “swinging bridge” refers to a suspension bridge. Suspension bridges use vertical cables to support their own weight. The Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco is another example of this type of suspension architecture. 

The Mile High Swinging Bridge is seventy years old, and it has gone through some major renovations. In 1999, the cables and foot planks were replaced with steel to make the bridge more resistant to the elements. The galvanized steel also minimized how much the bridge would sway, so travelers could cross the bridge with more comfort. 

Since 1952, Hugh Morton dedicated his life to protecting Grandfather Mountain and its wildlife. In 2006, Morton passed away. However, the Mile High Swinging Bridge will continue to bring generations of people even closer to the mountains that Morton once loved.

Know Before You Go

To visit the Mile High Swinging Bridge, you first need to drive or hike to the top of Grandfather Mountain. Here, you will find the swinging bridge just steps away from a gift shop and educational center. During your visit, you can also learn about the local animals. Grandfather Mountain hosts a variety of animal habitats to teach visitors about cougars, bears, otters, and eagles.

The bridge is particularly popular during October, which is when the autumn leaves are at their peak. The Mile High Swinging Bridge provides some of the best panoramas in the entire region to admire the orange and golden foliage across the mountains. 

Readers can learn more about Hugh Morton here.

Community Contributors
Added by

August 25, 2022

Make an Edit Add Photos
In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web